How to Use an Extension Ladder

How to Buy and Use Extension Ladder

An extension ladder is a convenient way to reach great heights. But ladder falls and serious injuries resulting from the misuse of extension ladders are very common.

Ladder-related injuries are among the most common accidents that you can prevent easily. To prevent these accidents, it’s important to know how to use an extension ladder safely.

In this post, we’ve included all the details on how to safely use an extension ladder.

How to Use an Extension Ladder- Simple to Follow Guidelines

The following guidelines will help you to set up and use your extension ladder properly and of course safely.

For your easy understanding, we’ve divided our guidelines in three parts.

Part 1

Acquire the basic knowledge about the extension ladder and the reasons that cause accidents.

1. Understand the reasons for ladder accidents

Although it’s not especially challenging to use, extension ladders are considered dangerous. Knowing why extension ladder accidents happen will help you to use it properly and safely.

Extension ladders are more unstable than straight ladders. In general, they have only two points of contact with the base. Typically, they have nothing but the “shoes” or “feet” with the two side rails.

The sliding feature and length of this type of ladder is another issue that negatively effects on its stability.

During using an extension ladder, two people must be involved- when one person climb up, another person must stay at the “foot” of the ladder to hold it in place. But, in maximum case, users don’t follow this step.

You can’t use your extension ladder at near-vertical or vertical angles. You need to lean it against the support object.

2. Familiar with the different parts of the extension ladder before you go ahead to use it

Generally, extension ladder features two sliding sections that run with guides or brackets to provide adjustable lengths.

Other basic parts are:

Safety shoe or foot: These consist of pads, and rotate or swivel slightly for getting proper contact with the ground/ base.

Fly section: It extends upward for maximizing the ladder length to reach the desired height. Usually, it’s the part you get close to the top when you climb. However, some models come with two- fly section that means they have three sections in total.

Base section: This part remains fixed in place. When you start to ascending the ladder, you have to step up on the rungs of this section.

Rung lock: This piece securely keeps the fly section in place

Rope and pulley: Larger extension ladders come with these components that help the ladder to extend.

3. Be aware of the weight limit or duty-rating of the ladder.

Look for the duty rating of a ladder displayed on the side railon the color-coded label. Never exceed that weight limit. Keep in mind that the weight limit involves your weight plus all the tools/ materials you’d climb with.

Part 2

Set Up the Extension Ladder

1. Inspect your ladder thoroughly before using

Inspect the rungs, side rails, locking mechanism, safety feet, rope and pulley carefully. Any damage to these parts will make your ladder risky to use. Also, check for any slippery substance on the ladder. If you find any damage or modification in your ladder in any way, never use it.

If possible, inspect your ladder by a competent person who has the knowledge to recognize ladder hazards

2. Lock the fly section before you move it

You should move your extension ladder without extending it. Before moving it into place, you should lock the flying parts by using rung lock. If you don’t lock it, while moving the fly section may slide, and your hands and fingers get caught and pinch between the rungs of the two parts.

3. Position your ladder

After moving the ladder into your desired place, set it down on its foot or shoe on a firm, level surface. Take your time to position it up the way it’s intended to be set up.

See the rotating shoes at the bottom of the ladder. The base of these shoes helps the ladder to stay in place. If you place your ladder on a flat, hard surface, these shoes will remain flat.

On soft ground, dig the tips into the ground. It’ll help you to secure your ladder.

Never adjust, shift or move the ladder while someone is on it.

4. Extend the fly section & lock it

To extend your ladder, raise the fly section. You can push the fly section up. If your ladder comes with rope and pulley, pull on the rope, it’ll extend automatically. You should maintain the minimum overlap of the sections.

During the extending process, you’ll need a helping hand to hold both the side rails of the base.

When raised to your desired height, lock the fly section in place with the rung locks. Make sure that your ladder has three feet above the level you need to climb.

Avoid overextending your ladder. You should maintain the maximum required overlapping.

Follow the proper lift techniques while lifting your ladder. If you employ incorrect lifting or raising technique, it could lead to injury.

*** Follow the reverse procedure of extending for lowering the ladder.

5. Lean your ladder to the support object

Follow the ladder angle rule while leaning it against the wall or supporting object. Start by tilting your ladder at a 4 to 1 ratio.

For example: To keep it at the right and safe angle, place the foot of the ladder 1 ft. away from the structure, you’re leaning against if your working height is 4 ft.

Make sure both edges of the top of the ladder touch the supporting wall/ object.

If you fully extend the ladder, secure the ladder in place by using a bungee cord. Fasten each rail to the object it’s leaning on.

Part 3

Climbing up the ladder

Check the stability of the ladder before ascending. Also check for any overhead obstruction and electrical wires before extending your ladder. If there are any overhead electric wires, never raise or lift your ladder near it

Position your body between the side rails facing the ladder. Grab the ladder with your one or both of your hands and ascend it.

Maintain three points of contact while climbing and working on it.

While climbing up, move your feet up each rung. Don’t step on more than one rung at a time.

Use tool vest, tool belt, or something similar to carry small tools with you while climbing up the ladder.Avoid standing on the top three rungs of an extension ladder.

Near electrical wires, don’t use aluminum ladders. Fiberglass ladders with non-conductive side rails are safe in this case. It’s recommended to keep all ladders at least 10 feet away from power lines.

*** Wear the proper clothing, safety belt, or harness while using a ladder.

*** Never use your ladder with bare feet. Wear non-skid footwear and dry your shoes before climbing. 


Hope, you’re now well-informed on how to use an extension ladder safely.

Each year many users get hurt while working on an extension ladder. Follow our instruction correctly and don’t become one of them.

Thanks for your time!

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert is a specialist in avionics technology. He has been involved in avionics technology since 1993. He spent more than 15 years writing about high tech gadgets. Numerous publications have interviewed him. He is very passionate about sharing his knowledge.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Henry Killingsworth - March 17, 2020

There are some shingles that need to be replaced on my roof and I was thinking of renting an extension ladder from a construction equipment service. I appreciate the advice on placing the ladder on a surface that is level. I’ll be sure to follow these tips so that I can be safe during this project.

    Stephen Colbert - March 30, 2020

    I am very happy to hear from you. You should keep on mind always “Safety First”. Thanks Much


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